Mundelein fire chief honored with walkout ceremony
Wearing his dress uniform and cap, Mundelein Fire Chief Tim Sashko bid farewell to the firefighters under his command Thursday in a traditional walkout ceremony.
Firefighters from Fox Lake, Grayslake, Long Grove and other communities attended the event, which was staged in the truck bay at the main fire station on Midlothian Road. About 100 local residents, elected officials, volunteers and other people were in the audience, too.
Sashko, 56, is leaving his hometown department after seven years as its leader. He has been hired as the executive director of the Illinois Fire Chiefs Association.
Before joining the Mundelein Fire Department, Sashko spent 28 years with the Buffalo Grove Fire Department, working his way from paid-on-call firefighter to chief.
Thursday's ceremony was a solemn one. The members of the department stood in formation on one side of the bay, joined by the visiting firefighters and chiefs.
A seven-member honor guard participated as well.
A lone bagpiper, Chicago firefighter Dave Johnson, played the pipes as Sashko and his wife, Jennifer, entered the bay for the ceremony. Deputy Chief Tim Leidig spoke about the various firefighting traditions and the importance of a chief's walkout.
"It is every firefighter's goal to walk out with pride and in the same condition he walked in," explained Leidig, who takes over as interim chief.
Mundelein Mayor Steve Lentz was among the speakers who followed. Lentz talked about the chief's reputation in the community as well as his honesty and integrity.
Afterward, Sashko inspected his firefighters one last time, shaking hands and sharing hugs as he walked the length of the bay.
Sashko received several gifts during the ceremony, including a U.S. flag that flew over the station earlier in the day.
The flag was folded into a triangle by the honor guard and given to Sashko by his sons, Mundelein firefighter Brad Sashko and Naperville firefighter Kevin Sashko.
When it came time to say some words, the elder Sashko fought back tears but couldn't keep his voice from cracking.
Sashko thanked the men and women who served under him, mayors and trustees, his family and the community he loves.
"I hope that we can continue to have fun together (and) work for the betterment of Mundelein," Sashko said.